Bashir orders release of detainees after protests
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Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir Tuesday ordered the release of political detainees, weeks after massive arrests in a crackdown on anti-government protests.
Security agents arrested hundreds of opposition leaders, activists, protesters in January in an attempt to curb demonstrations over rising food prices, including bread.
“President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday issued a decree to release all political detainees held across the country,” the official SUNA news agency reported, quoting the decree.
The SUNA report did not specify how many prisoners would be set free or whether they would include detainees held before the crackdown began.
“The decision aims to promote peace and harmony among all political parties in order to create a positive environment for achieving national goals,” SUNA said.
The January arrests came after sporadic protests erupted in the capital Khartoum and towns across the country after the price of bread more than doubled.
Some activists were later freed but many still remain in detention, including top opposition leaders Khaled Omar of the Sudanese Congress Party and Mokhtar al-Khatib, head of the Sudanese Communist Party.
Bashir’s order comes just days after the chief of Sudan’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Salah Abdallah Mohammed Salih, held a meeting with opposition activists over the issue of detainees.
During the meeting, Salih, widely known as Salih Ghosh, had agreed to release detainees, according to the opposition Communist Party.
The United States and European embassies in Sudan have called for the release of all detainees, with Washington’s mission in Khartoum saying that many are being held in “inhumane conditions”.
Sudanese authorities had cracked down on protesters in a bid to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013.
At that time dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed demonstrations, rights groups say. (AFP)